John Calvin did not much care for clothes—he wrote some pretty harsh stuff about women and their vain, superfluity of interest in them—but every day of his life, Calvin rose from his bed and put them on. He’d probably have some stern words for anyone who decided not to.
Read the church fathers and you’ll be surprised to find a lot of talk about clothes, most of it abrasive warnings against immodesty and excess. Today’s Christian writers pretty much avoid the topic, dismissing any discussion of clothing outside of modesty (not that we talk about modesty much either).
I think that’s a shame.
Every day I’m called upon to make decisions about what I wear, and as a person who likes to live intentionally and with integrity, I can’t help wanting to make those decisions in a way that matches my life’s priorities and mission. I want to dress like God would want me to dress. And lately, I’ve suspected that might be farther reaching than whether or not my clothes are modest (although that’s certainly included).
So…. I’m writing a book. A book about God. And clothes.
Here are a few of the questions I’m asking:
- Does what I wear matter? Should it matter? How much should it matter?
- Is it okay to like clothes?
- Should I wear brand names?
- How much clothing is too much clothing?
- Is where my clothes are made and under what conditions important?
- Is it okay to dress to fit in?
I’m not stopping there though. As I read the Bible looking for references to clothes, I’m finding that God uses them, again and again, to teach lessons in grace, integrity, holiness, and more. I want to explore the parable of the wedding feast or the account of Joseph’s colorful coat to see what we can learn about clothes, yes, but also about life and God.
What I’m discovering so far is that clothes are not accessories but often times powerful indicators of identity and mission.
What you wear (and why you wear it) might be more important than you think.